Don Garrison - Scholarship Award

Simon (CEO Numerical Innovations, Inc) and his father Don Garrison.

Purpose:  To Inspire Black and minority children (between the ages of 10-17), who have the potential to become Software Developers and future technology leaders of the world.  The Don Garrison Scholarship was started in 2000, after Simon Garrison sold his first company to Altium, Inc for approximately $2 million (USD).  Sponsored by Numerical Innovations Inc, a black owned technology business.

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Don Garrison was born in New Orleans, Louisiana during the late 1940's.  He was raised by two loving & hard working parents (his mother was a school teacher and father sold insurance) - however he grew up in the segregated American South, where there was one significant rule: "white" or "colored".  As a teenager Don was constantly reminded by society, police, teachers and even the school principal that he was "not equal". 

Don Garrison graduated high school at the age of 17, and was immediately put into the infantry front-lines of an ongoing war for the US Army.  After having survived, he moved to San Francisco, California where he met his wife Anne and had an inter-racial marriage.

Don Garrison was mathematically talented and easily passed various technology courses at local colleges, while also working full-time to support his family.  However even during "Silicon Valley's" huge growth period of the 1970's (when high-tech companies like Atari, Apple, and Oracle were all founded), he was never taken seriously for any job opportunities in technology.  Instead he was offered jobs as a janitor and assembly-line worker for those same "high-tech" companies.  Adding to his frustration, Don watched his white counterparts who had absolutely no experience or mathematical talent - given opportunities to advance and allowed to learn technology while on the job.

Because of his limited job opportunities in Silicon Valley, his family lived very modestly and Don had to settle as a merchant marine (which kept him away from his family 3-6 months at a time).

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When his son Simon Garrison received the highest mathematical IQ score for his entire school, Don made sure Simon was going to have the opportunity he was never offered.  During Christmas 1983, Don and his wife - maxed out their Macy's credit card to buy the latest Apple IIe computer for their son - it took them over 3 years to pay back a single Christmas gift!   

Don Garrison sacrificed to make sure his son was given an early opportunity to break through social barriers, and be able to use his mathematical talents to create opportunities in technology for himself and others; and most importantly not be wasted as a janitor, assembly-line worker, sailor, or frustrated sitting in some jail cell.

Simon Garrison - Apple Computer Gift, Christmas 1983.

"That Christmas (in 1983), and knowing how much my parents sacrificed, inspired me to deeply learn computer languages 'down to the assembly language level'.  Having the confidence, I competed and won several middle-school computer programming awards. 

In the 90's I started my own software business at age 23. I was immediately belittled by many in the electronics/tech industry as just, "the black guy with the software" and always had to "extra prove" my software is trustworthy. When performing on-site sales demonstrations (yes before the internet) it was common to have my meetings cancelled in the front lobby as soon as I arrived. Usually it was something like "..sorry [Bob] can't make the meeting today and we need everyone to see it". Finally after getting my first big customer, the CEO of a very successful software company (in Santa Cruz, California - who still exists today), called me into his office and said, "Stop developing software, or he's going to CRUSH me".  However nothing I ever experienced, was even close to what my father and other black men of previous generations endured. I hope with each generation racial barriers continue to be removed.

The Don Garrison Scholarship started in 2000, and it's our goal to constantly help inspire as many Black and minority children as possible - to discover they are just as smart and talented (if not more) - and just need someone to believe in them and provide an opportunity.  We are not a major corporation who could easily donate 1000 computers at a time - and then write a congratulatory press release about it to the media [while also taking a tax write-off]. Instead this award comes directly from the daily hard work and sacrifice of a small black owned software company. Like my father, we want nothing in return but to help provide an early opportunity to inspire a talented kid." - Simon Garrison (CEO/President Numerical Innovations, Inc.)

Don Garrison passed away in March 2021.

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If you are a gifted child (or the parent/guardian of a gifted child) who could greatly benefit from an early opportunity to have the latest computer and software development tools available - please submit the form (below) to be considered for the Don Garrison Scholarship Award.